BATON ROUGE, La. -- Jefferson Davis Parish just became eligible for disaster assistance, according to officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Louisiana Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness. The federal disaster declaration of June 8th now covers nine parishes: Acadia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, St. Landry, St. Martin and West Baton Rouge.
"Ongoing damage assessments-done in close cooperation with local authorities and FEMA-pointed out the need for the add-on parish," said State Coordinating Officer Art Jones. "Folks are still hurting out there. We want every qualified family and business owner to get the help they need to get back on their feet."
Individuals who sustained damages or losses caused by the mid-May storms and floods can apply for assistance by calling the toll-free registration number 1?800?621?FEMA (3362). People with hearing or speech impairments may call (TTY) 1-800-462-7585 to apply for assistance. Applications can be made between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., seven days a week until further notice. Registrations will be accepted until August 7, 2004.
Disaster assistance can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, personal property replacement, home repairs and other disaster-related expenses. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also offers low-interest loans to qualified homeowners, renters and business owners. SBA loans are the main source of long-term recovery assistance. Other types of help include crisis counseling and disaster unemployment assistance.
Under the declaration, all nine parishes may apply for federal funds on a cost-shared basis for approved projects that reduce future disaster risks, said Federal Coordinating Officer Pete Martinasco from FEMA. "Working together, we can save lives, avoid property loss and make our communities safer," said Martinasco.
Examples of mitigation measures include:
- Acquisition, elevation and relocation of structures from the floodplain.
- Installation of wind-resistant straps and fasteners to secure a structure's roof and walls during high-wind events, such as hurricanes and tornados.
- Elevation and relocation of hot-water heaters and utilities above the floodplain.
- Community-wide participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.